The Isle of Wight’s mental health inpatient unit at St Mary’s Hospital is under greater pressure than ‘it has seen in years’, as COVID starts to catch-up.
The Covid-19 surge is only now reaching the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s mental health team at Sevenacres, with modelling suggesting the number of people accessing the trust’s mental health services could continue to escalate over the next 4 years, as a result of the pandemic.
Speaking at a meeting of the trust board, director of mental health, Dr Lesley Stevens, said the inpatient unit managed well during the January COVID surge, with fewer COVID patients that other departments, but the impact of the virus is different for mental health services, with the effects only just reaching them.
Dr Stevens said the Island is reflecting the national patterns: a rise in eating disorders, crisis and acute referrals and the severity of those referrals. She said the mental health inpatient unit is under much greater pressure than they had seen for years and while they could not say for certain the numbers were due to COVID, as the growing trends reflect the national picture, it was very likely that it was the start of the COVID surge.
One of the reasons people are only just reaching out is due to lockdown, where people were not accessing services.
Direct impacts of COVID-19 are also said to be causing the increase as lockdown impacted people’s psychological wellbeing and socio-economic status.
Dr Stevens said positive support was in place to ease the pressures, through the partnership with Solent NHS Trust, with additional capacity and clinical support.
A new strategy is now being implemented by the IW NHS Trust, the ‘No Wrong Door’ model which will help people access the support they need when they need it through more outlets.
Last week, the Isle of Wight Council agreed to sell Sandown Civic Centre and barracks building to the trust, which will turn it into a new community mental health facility for The Bay area.